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USC Brings Thug Ball To Norman, Loses 73-72

USC brought a physical brand of basketball to Lloyd Noble Arena Thursday night and almost bullied their way to a win. Oklahoma showed some concerns that they could be forced to make mistakes when a team bows up to them. I don’t want to call them a finesse team but the athleticism and physical play that the Trojans brought to the game almost threw Oklahoma off of theirs.  


USC’s plan was to hack Blake Griffin and try to muscle him around under the boards. It worked from the standpoint that Griffin only secured 6 rebounds (resulting in his first non double-double this season) but the big man still got his points, 25 of them.


Teams have tried several different things to slow Blake Griffin down this season but the Trojans took it to the extreme. Leonard Washington caused Griffin to take a short break at almost the mid point of the second half when he gave Griffin a shot to the groin. It almost worked as OU’s 11 point lead eventually dropped to just 1.


I think you could attribute more than Blake Griffin’s short absence to the USC comeback. First, give the Trojans credit for their resolve to fight back on the road by making things happen. Beyond that there is a short list of reasons that the Sooners could have lost this game.


  • Under the BoardsOklahoma lost the battle of the boards to USC by a slim margin, 25-28 but the more disturbing stat was the offensive boards. OU only grabbed five offensive rebounds. OU did have 11 second chance points but it could have been much more had they been stronger on the offensive glass.


  • Second Half ShootingOklahoma’s shooting percentage dropped from 53.8% in the first half to 38.5% in the second half. Again, let’s give credit where it is due for the Trojans stiffening up on defense but part of the problem was 1-8 from beyond the arch in the second half. That tells me the Sooners had tired legs from the physical play.


  • Defensive Breakdowns – USC’s shooting percentage jumped up from 43.3% in the first half to 60% in the second half including 4-4 from beyond the three point line. USC did a good job at creating their shots but they also had some easy looks as well.


  • Missed Free Throws – In a close game you look at everything. Oklahoma left 8 points at the charity stripe tonight with an 18-26 performance. There weren’t any bigger than the ones by Cade Davis at the end of the game.


Now to be fair we should look at the other side because Oklahoma did after all win the game. That means that there were some things that they did do right in order to beat a very physical and athletic team.


  • Points Off TurnoversOklahoma forced 14 USC turnovers which led to 16 Sooner points.


  • Jump Shots – OU still has some work to do in this area but it was good enough to get by Thursday night. Austin Johnson was 7-12 from the floor including 3-7 from three point land. Only 22 of Oklahoma’s points cam in the paint and another 18 from the free throw line. That leaves 33 points resulting from spot up shooting.


  • Bench Points – It wasn’t much but Oklahoma’s bench out scored USC’s 11-8. Remember in a close game we look at everything.


  • Blake Griffin – He was the best player on the floor. What does it say about him when we are actually disappointed when he doesn’t log a double-double?